Franciscan spirituality is based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in the late 1100’s and early 1200’s. Franciscan spirituality does not contain any features that are dramatically different from those of other religious orders, but the simplicity of St. Francis’s teachings has reached many people. The Franciscan order is arguably one of the most well-known in the world today.
Franciscan Retreat Centers
Going on a retreat to a Franciscan retreat center does not mean that you will be experiencing a uniquely Franciscan retreat, as you might if you go on an Ignatian retreat of the Spiritual Exercises at a Jesuit retreat center. Many Franciscan retreat centers offer a hermitage experience where you may get away from the everyday world to quietly pray and reflect upon God’s creation in the wilderness. Other Franciscan retreat centers offer space for guided retreats that may range from men’s retreat and women’s retreats to silent retreats and retreats relevant to the time of the liturgical year.
At a Franciscan retreat center you will not get a retreat that was designed and refined by St. Francis himself, but you will experience the Franciscan spirituality from the religious that run the center. This spirituality is very Christ-centered, focusing specifically on Christ and His Incarnation.
It is easiest to give you a feeling for Franciscan spirituality by describing it with three main pillars:
“Minority” is the emptying of self in order to love. Minority really focuses one on the humility of Christ and urges us to follow His example.
The poverty and humility of Christ’s Incarnation as man are the two foundations on which Minority rests. Poverty is the outward expression of Minority, and humility is the inward expression.
Franciscan spirituality pushes us to pray and grow together as a community. The good of the fraternity should be above the good of the individual. The focus on Minority is essential to the concept Fraternity within Franciscan spirituality, and helps Fraternity to flourish.
Franciscan spirituality has a focus on penance, which in this case means a conversion of the heart and a return to God. It means turning every impulse of our soul toward God and continuously working to grow closer to Him.
The fruit of Minority, Fraternity, and Penance is love. The love resulting from this spirituality shows itself in peace and joy.
An Atmosphere of Franciscan Spirituality
If you go on retreat to a Franciscan retreat center you will find an atmosphere of simple peace and joy. This atmosphere allows you to remove yourself from the busy world for a time, focus on God, and rejuvenate your spiritual life. If you are looking for a way to grow closer to God and to find God more readily in everyday life, it will benefit you to look deeper into Franciscan spirituality.
If you want to learn more about St. Francis and Franciscan spirituality take a look at The Writings Of St. Francis of Assisi.
Franciscan Retreat Centers in the United States